Qantas will introduce free inflight wi-fi from next year after partnering with global broadband services provider ViaSat with services 10 times faster than current onboard wi-fi.
In-flight trials will kick off in late 2016 aboard a Qantas Boeing 737 retro-fitted with
modems and advanced antennas to receive the satellite signal.
This will then be rolled out across the Qantas domestic fleet of A330s and B737s from early 2017.
The service will allow passengers to browse the web, access emails, check Facebook and be fast enough to even stream movies and TV shows.
The partnership will see ViaSat supply Qantas with links between the aircraft and the high capacity KA-band satellite and ground stations to connect the aircraft to the internet.
“Bringing high-speed wi-fi to the domestic aviation market has been an ambition of ours for a long time and we now have access to the right technology to make it happen,” said Qantas CEO Alan Joyce.
“The sheer size of the Australian landmass creates some significant challenges for inflight connectivity but the recent launch of nbn’s satellite has opened up new opportunities that we plan to take advantage of with ViaSat’s help.”
Qantas is also looking at expanding high-speed wi-fi connectivity to its international and regional fleets as well.
ViaSat already serves nearly 500 US commercial aircraft and connect more passengers per flight at higher speeds than any other service.
Each passenger will be able to enjoy speeds of up to 20Mbps which is enough bandwidth to support on-demand video streaming.
“We are delighted to be working with Qantas, who share our commitment to offering airline passengers the best, most convenient in-flight connectivity experience,” said Mark Dankberg, ViaSat’s Chairman and CEO.
“Our experience is proven on 1,500 flights daily, with as many as 148 simultaneous active devices on any given flight and with many of those devices using streaming media.”